Thursday, October 17, 2013

Discard NK Refugee Exodus Concerns

I think that this and the host of other articles recently coming out on north Korea instability and collapse, sudden change, coups, civil war, humanitarian assistance and refugees are in response to the recent report from RAND by Dr. Bruce Bennett on Preparing for the Possibility of a north Korean Collapse.  

While I would agree with Hyeon Seoung Il that we should not "…end up taking the prevention of sudden situations or [North Korean] systemic security as the fundamentals of our North Korea policy” I do not think that we are arguing for such a policy.  

With all due respect to Dr. Hyeon I think his indirect criticism of Dr. Bennett's report and those of us so-called "Collapsists" falls into the same group of the other recent line of critics who have not fully read Dr. Bennett's report nor understand conducting contingency planning and making preparation for the worst case scenarios rather than simply hoping for the scenarios that we would like to occur.  As I have stated many times, I too hope for peaceful reunification or a new leadership in Pyongyang that will reform the north and open it up and become a responsible member of the international community and will welcome it very much if either of those scenarios occurs but I also believe that we have a responsibility to plan and prepare for the range of possible events and one of the most dangerous and complex will be regime collapse.  I would be very happy if we could entice Kim Jong-un to change and follow the path of China.  I am willing to accept that if it happens and I am willing to help provide the opportunity to allow that to happen but I do not think it will.  

Just a couple of comments on Dr. Bennett's report.

He is not predicting when or even if the Kim Family Regime will collapse only arguing that if it does it could be very complex and dangerous.  He argues that because of the complexity and danger that we (and he is talking about the ROK/US Alliance as we) have an obligation to prepare for it.  Furthermore, he also argues that many of the same preparations for regime collapse will also support peaceful reunification should another scenario occur.

He has conducted extremely useful and valuable analysis.  He is not arguing for making the preparation for collapse the basis of policy and he is not supporting the idea that we should not engage the north or that we should just have a containment policy and just wait until the regime collapses. Those are the arguments of the naysayers of collapse and those who have not read the report.

Paradoxically, many of the preparations for collapse could also be effective in helping to influence reform and following a Chinese-like reform path with north Korean characteristics.  And if reform does not occur and collapse does, then we will have made the attempt to help and conducted the necessary preparations to somewhat  mitigate the fallout from regime collapse.  The bottom line is that preparing for regime collapse and engaging and trying to influence reform and opening in the north does not have to be an either/or proposition but can be both/and.

And the most important contribution that Dr. Bennett has made is to get people talking about and trying to understand the complex problem of regime collapse which will hopefully drive people to begin preparations.

Discard NK Refugee Exodus Concerns

By Lee Sang Yong
[2013-10-16 20:12 ]
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▲ Today’s event on the dangers of sudden change in North Korea, hosted by Korea Policy Research Center and the National Development Institute on October 15th. (ⓒDailyNK)
With the exception of war or a massive natural disaster, it is unlikely that substantive change in North Korea would create huge outflows of refugees. That was the conclusion reached by a senior researcher with the Institute for National Security Strategy, Hyeon Seong Il, at a seminar hosted by Korea Policy Research Center and the National Development Institute on October 15th. 

“If we overstate the probability of mass refugee flows or get caught up in a mentality of worrying about the harm that such a thing could do, we could end up taking the prevention of sudden situations or [North Korean] systemic security as the fundamentals of our North Korea policy,” Hyeon cautioned,

“Rather than conflict between two massive factions of a sort that might precipitate a large exodus of refugees, there is a general relationship of antagonism between the minority and the majority [in North Korea],” he went on to assert. 

“North Korean policy to date has shown us that, in the event that the winner is the minority, the large-scale exit of the majority can be deterred,” he said. Conversely, “If the current majority were to emerge the victor then the minority could leave in order to avoid revenge attacks. However, that would not require a massive exodus.”
(Continued at the link below)

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